The pelvic floor is an area that we’ve all heard about and we all ‘kind of know’ about. But many, myself included, tend to not really think much about it unless reminded (when we might do some quick kegels.. before we forget again).
So I’ve written up an article to help answer all those pelvic floor questions so you can get a deeper understanding over how important it is that we look after this muscle group.
I also mention the newly opened Fix in East Village. While I might be discussing pelvic floor, as a company they deal with a multitude of issues including non pregnancy related ones.
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is the group of muscles found at the base of your core. They are located in your pelvis.
What does the pelvic floor do?
Your pelvic floor helps to support your pelvic organs and can help you to hold onto a full bladder without leaking urine. The muscles help the pelvic organs function properly whether that’s to do with bowel habits, bladder issues or aiding in sexual function.
How can the pelvic floor weaken?
Pelvic floor muscles lose strength over time. Childbirth can be a huge factor because of the weight of the baby pushing down onto the pelvic floor muscles stretching them. For the same reason obesity can be another reason why your pelvic floor can weaken. There are other factors that can cause a weak pelvic floor as well, and sometimes it can start from an early age.
What can happen if my pelvic floor gets weak?
Loss of bladder control is a huge issue that many people suffer in silence and is probably the most well-known symptom of a weak pelvic floor. Even the need to frequently urinate is a pelvic floor issue. Bowel incontinence is also due to a weak pelvic floor- whether that’s being unable to control flatulence or faeces, or feeling like you need to pass several bowel movements in a short period of time or feeling like you’ve not managed to complete a bowel movement.
It can also hugely impact sexual pleasure.
I don’t have any issues with my pelvic floor. Can I ignore it?
As stated above the pelvic floor gets weaker over time. This is true for men and women. Because it’s a muscle it’s important that it’s exercised properly to maintain its function. I don’t have any pelvic floor issues currently, but I do have diastasis recti which means I’m at risk because both diastasis recti and the pelvic floor are core related problems. The menopause is also a common time where the pelvic floor muscles weaken and can cause issues.
Why is it important to exercise the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor muscles can be strengthened by exercising them- similar to any other muscle in the body. By keeping them exercised you’re helping to maintain their function.
How do you exercise the pelvic floor?
You’ll be told by doctors and midwives to do your kegels. And unfortunately the advice, while helpful isn’t really something many people actively do simply because it’s so easily forgotten.
Another problem is that it can be quite hard to identify the muscles that need to be worked. So while you may be doing your kegels now, how can you be sure you’re doing it correctly?
I find going to specialist classes really useful. It’s not about strenuous exercise, it’s about identifying the muscles that need to be exercised and being monitored by someone who can help you appropriately.
Why are specialists important?
With the boom of You Tube many people prefer the idea of working out at home and following a video. It saves money but it doesn’t have the bonus of having a person monitoring you to make sure the exercises you’re doing are correctly performed and therefore actually working the correct muscles.
Specialists are so important because they can double-check your posture throughout a class, and they can monitor your progress to make sure you’re doing the best you possibly can to help yourself.
If money is an issue, I’d still always recommend going to a specialist class over the course of a few weeks until you learn to identify the muscles you need to work out correctly. It’s also a great way to learn how to work those muscles properly without just doing kegels while watching tv and hoping it works.
Is there a place you recommend in London?
Fix London has just opened a new clinic in East Village.
They run many post natal groups including a Pelvic Floor Galore class. As a company they run a variety of different classes and treatments under one roof. Whatever your issue, whether that’s diastasis recti or pelvic floor issues or something completely not related to childbirth, they aim to give you everything you require to get your health back.
(^^ Angela during the class)
Angela runs the Pelvic Floor Galore class that I was fortunate enough to try out alongside Dani, from This Woman’s Word. Dani is pregnant whereas I’m post natal with diastasis recti which limits certain movements for me, and I loved that Angela took both our concerns and adapted certain exercises for us.
The workout was really uplifting and enjoyable. I can always tell when it’s a class that suits me because I feel like an hours class goes by so quickly! It was also a great way to interact with other mums too. There were two other mums in our class, both with young babies, one in a pram asleep and the other playing on the floor next to her mum. And the four of us worked out with each other using resistance bands. There was no issue at all if a baby needed to be held or fed, Angela helped to keep them happy where she could while their mums continued to exercise. I even think I’d be able to bring along Evie to a class and perhaps pop up a travel cot for her to play in with some toys.
If you want to read about Dani’s experience from a pregnancy point of view, her article is here.
(^^Angela talking through safe pregnancy movements with Dani)
How do I get to Fix East Village?
Fix East village is located near to Westfield Stratford. The location makes it ideal to use public transport to get there, or to park at Westfield and walk to Fix.
After the class you’re in a great position to get to know the other mums further. With great coffee shops and restaurants in the East Village area it’s a great sociable place to be.